5 alternative ideas for kid-friendly holiday activities in the Bay Area

If there’s ever a time to be in San Francisco with young kids, it’s during the holidays. There are so many fun activities, things to see and places to visit, that the most difficult part of each day is making a decision on what to do. In partnership with Ziraffe, here’s a list of my favorite things to do with kids in San Francisco around the holidays.

The Carousel at the Children's Creativity Museum

The Carousel at the Children's Creativity Museum

I love living in San Francisco with young kids. Let me tell you why.

Simply put, there’s never nothing to do. Of course, there’s the long list of parks, playgrounds and museums, many of which are age specific. But there’s also an event, festival or some sort of obscure celebration nearly every day of the week — and most certainly every weekend. While I don’t know if we’ll stay in the city forever, it’s so good to us now. Especially during the holidays.

From a number of tree lightings and live music concerts, to shows for little ones and markets galore, there’s almost too much to do in the Bay Area around the holidays. And of course, I always want to do it all. But because life if already so busy, we have to edit down. So, I’ve narrowed down a list of my favorite things to do with Lu.

Hope you find this list useful and fun. And as always, I’d love to hear your ideas for things I missed.

This post was created in partnership with Ziraffe, a kids clothing store out of Oakland started by two moms who believe in empowering children with ways to express themselves. Their minimalist, chic and fun clothes are sourced with three things in mind: instilling a love of craftsmanship and good design, bringing fun and imagination into every day and promoting sustainability and ethical practice. You can check out Zirraffe for more beautifully made, inspired kids clothes here.


Get dressed up + Go see a holiday show

Lu and I dressed up for a night out with her fancy pants from Ziraffe. Me? I'm in the only dress that fits at this stage in my pregnancy!

Lu and I dressed up for a night out with her fancy pants from Ziraffe. Me? I'm in the only dress that fits at this stage in my pregnancy!

I really need a pair of these pants in my size.

I really need a pair of these pants in my size.

We don’t get too many opportunities to dress up in San Francisco, especially since it’s such a casual city. For me, that’s kinds of shame, since dressing up my daughter (while she still lets me) is probably one of the most fun parts of parenting. There are plenty of family-friendly, age-specific performances happening throughout the Bay Area over the next couple of months. Ones we’re planning on attending are Disney on Ice at Oracle Arena, Old McDonald at the Bay Area Children’s Theater and the dance along Nutcracker at Yerba Buena.


Support local makers + Get cool gifts at holiday markets

Lu getting ideas for Christmas presents at the Makers Market in San Jose with a Ziraffe dress that could’ve easily been made by one of the vendors.

Lu getting ideas for Christmas presents at the Makers Market in San Jose with a Ziraffe dress that could’ve easily been made by one of the vendors.

Handmade soaps at Makers Market.

Handmade soaps at Makers Market.

For me, holiday markets are the best places to source unique gifts for family and friends. I always want to buy it all. And while pricey, you're getting something truly special that you can feel good about supporting.

Our top four markets to hit up include:

  • Crafted SF: Nob Hill on Dec. 2 and 3 from 11-6. This one focuses on ceramics and jewelry made by local artists.
  • San Francisco Bazaar: California Academy of Sciences on Dec.14 at 6. This one is for all sorts of crafted local products. It has the added benefit of letting your kiddos run around to see the exhibits while you shop.
  • SFMade Holiday Gift Fair: SFMade on Dec. 17 from 11-5. The most local of local. Here I’ve found everything from artisan and specialty food items and handmade clothing to holiday cards and gift boxes suitable for any age.
  • Makers Market in the Park: Mill Valley Lumber Yard on Dec. 16 from 10-5. Much like SFMade, this market always has a wide assortment of gifts, food and goodies.

Get a kids tour + See the changing leaves at the Botanical Gardens

At the Botanical Gardens wearing a 100 percent organic alpaca wool sweater from Ziraffe.

At the Botanical Gardens wearing a 100 percent organic alpaca wool sweater from Ziraffe.

Bamboo Forest at the Botanical Gardens

Bamboo Forest at the Botanical Gardens

The first and third Sunday of every month the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park hosts a kids storytime and guided tour of the gardens.

I recently took Lu to see some of the changing leaves. It was lovely — and educational. Throughout December they also host wreath making workshops and free entrance days.


See the lights + Visit the puppies in Union Square

With girlfriends at the Tree in Union Square.

With girlfriends at the Tree in Union Square.

Puppies! In a window! For adoption! 

Puppies! In a window! For adoption! 

This one might be obvious, but here it is in case you forgot. Between the tree, ice skating rink and puppies on display at Macy’s, Union Square is one of the most magical and fun places to spend a morning or afternoon in San Francisco during the holidays.

We followed up our most recent visit with a hot chocolate and an organic, grass-fed (only in SF!) hot dog from street vendors.


Explore + Experience a winter wonderland at the Children’s Creativity Museum

Admiring the city at the Children's Creativity Museum. Lu's turtleneck in quintessential Ziraffe — chic, minimalist and so, so fun.

Admiring the city at the Children's Creativity Museum. Lu's turtleneck in quintessential Ziraffe — chic, minimalist and so, so fun.

If you haven’t been, the Children’s creativity museum is hands down one of my favorite places to take Lu.

During the holidays, they have a number of events and shows, including a winter wonderland studio on Dec. 17-23, which includes a snowflake wind tunnel, a design your own mini-sled station, digital snowflakes and ping-pong light-up tree decorations. I haven’t been yet, but you can count on seeing us there.